SHEAMOISTURE SPOTLIGHT ON HEALTHY LIVING QUEEN: LYNDA ODOH – CEO HEALTHIFY AFRICA

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skincare innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

Meet Lynda Odoh

Lynda Odoh-Anikwe is the CEO and founder of Healthify Africa.

She is a Medical Doctor from the University of Nigeria and started Healthify Africa. Healthify Africa is an enterprise that strives to tackle the dietary risk factors for non-communicable diseases.

In the course of her daily interactions with patients, she realized that people were most driven by convenience and availability when making healthy lifestyle choices.

Lynda decided to start a fruit delivery service. She hopes this will create an enabling system for busy urban dwellers, to conveniently meet the World Health Organization’s daily fruit recommendation for a healthy life.

Her vision is to see an African continent where adopting a healthy lifestyle is easy, practical and sustainable.

You can connect with Lynda and her business on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Tell us how you started Healthify Africa.

When I began to practice as a medical doctor, I saw that there were so many instances of non-communicable diseases that could have been avoided by a simple dietary change.

I started Healthify Africa because I wanted to create a solution to the problem of non-communicable diseases. My goal with Healthify Africa is to address dietary risk factors.

I do this by providing a service that helps busy people adopt healthy eating habits. This is done through a simplified system and healthy lifestyle advocacy.

At Healthify Africa our focus is on increasing the consumption of fruits for busy urban dwellers through a delivery platform. By providing affordable fruit boxes, fruit cups, fruit and dip platter to school children, homes and offices, we’re building a healthier Africa one person at a time.

SheaMoisture

What was your motivation for finally starting your business?

For me, it was because I had been in similar situations and I understood the challenges people face in trying to adopt and sustain healthy dietary habits.

I grew up in a health-conscious family and I grew accustomed to having a very healthy diet. However, when I became a young adult and my schedule became tighter especially during my internship, it became extremely difficult to eat the right things.

It was a situation of knowing the right thing to do, but being unable to do it. I knew then that there must be other busy young people like me, men, women and even mothers who wanted their children eating fruits but were pressed for time as I was.

"I realized that just like myself, people were most empowered by convenience and availability rather than just knowledge." – dr_lyndah Click To Tweet

That for me was a huge community need that I passionately wanted to see addressed. So I made the decision to become the change I desired by creating an enabling platform. A platform that supports healthy food choices so as to help myself and others with the same challenge.

What makes your brand stand out?

Healthify Africa is not just another food company, that caters to only satisfying hunger. Instead, my brand is particularly focused on ensuring that everyone has access to the daily consumption of 400g of fruits, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


The vision is to create a world where healthy eating is most practical and the dietary risks of non-communicable diseases reduced to the barest minimum.

That, as well as our commitment to healthy lifestyle advocacy, has been a huge attraction for our clients because they can see it.

SheaMoisture

What are three things you struggled with when your business kicked off and how did you overcome them?

When I first started my business, a lot of people did not understand what we were trying to do and that equated to zero orders. We had to create a lot of awareness about the health benefits of patronizing our convenience-based service.

Also, through our follow-up and feedback system, we tried to encourage our clients to make referrals and this has continued to help our brand.

Secondly, being a fruit delivery service, food hygiene, presentation and safety during transit were some of my topmost priorities. It was a challenge finding the ideal packaging that met all the criteria and would still fit into our production cost.

I did my online research and eventually was able to find a reliable supplier that we now work with.

SheaMoisture

Finally, it was important that our fruit packs get delivered in a cold temperature range for a great client experience. This was a challenge when we had to deliver long-distance orders. This was an issue because there is currently no thermostat equipped delivery services operating in Abuja where we operate from.

To overcome this, we currently partner with a reliable express delivery service and improvise with ice packs in the chillers for long-distance deliveries. Hopefully, in the near future, we can have our very own thermostat equipped delivery bikes.

How do you stay above the noise in your industry?

We made sure to implement a system of receiving and acting on feedback, from early on in the business so that we know what exactly our clients want and tweak our approach to offer them that.

This has been really helpful in building a business that our clients love and customer retention as well.

Did you have any personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

Before I started my business, I had a few unpleasant experiences with logistics. On one occasion, I was to make a trip and I had made an earlier arrangement with a cab driver. However, on the morning of the trip, he was a no show, which made me have to find another one. To cut the long story short, I ended missing the bus I was to get on.

When I began my business, I took that experience with me and created a better delivery structure. I ensure that all delivery arrangements are made on time to avoid communication-related challenges. As a second step, I also make backup plans to ensure that I don’t disappoint my clients.

SheaMoisture

Can you tell us of any impact have you made in your community since you started your business?

As a medical doctor, I am really passionate about helping people live healthier lives and I made sure to infuse this into my business.

Through my brand, I have been able to raise awareness about the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Also, we have encouraged people to sustain a healthy lifestyle by organizing health and fitness challenges.

Most recently, we actively participated in the 2019 global week for action against Non-Communicable diseases. We engaged in a social media awareness campaign (#enoughNCDs #healthifyafrica) and an educational video series with a team of Doctors.

It is of great value to me that my clients are enlightened and empowered to make the right decisions for their health. – dr_lyndah Click To Tweet

Can you share your 2019 goals with us and what you’ve done so far to achieve them?

Since we had already introduced our business, our 2019 goal was to broaden our client base. Our method was to strictly implement feedback from clients. Also, we started building partnerships that will ensure quality product delivery and unforgettable customer experience.

After doing this for some time this year, we have recorded an increase in the number of clients that have requested for our service. This is something we are going to keep doing since it’s bringing positive results.

We believe it has laid a great foundation for more successes with so many growth possibilities ahead and we are optimistic about that.

What are three interesting things about you?

The first is that I love DIY’s. I have actually painted my room from start to finish on two different occasions just for the fun of it. The last is that I love the power bikes but I’m too scared to get one yet.

SheaMoisture

What’s your favorite self-care routine?

I like to get soaked in a warm bath after a stressful day. I simply light my candles and toss in some petals. After that, I take a mental trip to wherever the CALM Meditation App takes me to, preferably the waterside.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA, sponsored by SheaMoisture?

I feel absolutely ecstatic! When I first saw the email from SLA and SheaMoisture, I was so excited. I had to read it over and over again to make sure it was really for me. Thank you so much She Leads Africa and SheaMoisture for this opportunity.

What is one word that should come to people’s minds when they think about your product/ services?

Authentic!

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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SheaMoisture Spotlight on Hospitality Queen: Frances Omanukwue – CEO Pro Event Hostess Hub

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Frances Omanukwue

Frances N. Omanukwue has over seven years’ experience as an Event Hostess and Event Coordinator.

She is also the author of “Becoming A Profitable Event Hostess” which is the first event hostess book in Nigeria.

After seeing the potentials in the event hostess industry and how young ladies can maximize this opportunity to be financially independent while bridging the unemployment gap, she started empowering young ladies through event hostess jobs.

To increase the number of young ladies who will benefit from this opportunity, Frances founded “The Pro Event Hostess Hub,” a social media platform to groom young ladies who will not only attain a level of financial independence but most importantly, will be hostesses that abide by the ethics of the industry.

Recently, The Pro Event Hostess Hub was nominated amongst the top 15 Most Creative Businesses in Nigeria by Global Entrepreneurship Network-Nigeria.

Frances interests range from entrepreneurship to volunteering. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer for many causes that cut across health and young women empowerment.

Frances tells us more about how she started providing jobs and supporting young women in her community.

Connect with Frances on her Website, Instagram, & Twitter…


How I started thePro Event Hostess hub…

After graduating from the university and not being able to find a job, coupled with encountering some financial challenges on the home front, I decided to look for ways to survive as well as support my family.

At the time, I started working as an event hostess which is what most people refer to as an usher.

As I grew in the industry irrespective of the setbacks, I observed how the money I earned over the years had helped my family especially my siblings in paying for tuition and fees, as well as sorting out their personal needs. 

With this realization, I started linking more young women within my community to event hostess jobs.

Over time, they’d come to tell me how the opportunity had helped them to pay for school fees or sort their other financial challenges in school, learn a trade and are about to start a business. Seeing the difference it made in their lives, I decided to take it more seriously so that by doing so, I can help other young women irrespective of their location.

How I’ve impacted my community since starting this business…

So far, I’ve been able to link more than 100 young women to event hostess jobs which they have used to raise money to support themselves in school, learn skills and start businesses of their own.

Some have also used this opportunity to learn skills that helped them get into corporate employment as well.

3 things I struggled with at the start of my business…

  1. Understanding how to structure the business: I struggled with this in the beginning but I started going for training and I have definitely gotten better since then.
  2. Training existing and new event hostesses: It wasn’t easy to convince them to go through the training process at first, but from the feedback and results of other ladies who have attended our training, others can now see the benefit of it.
  3. Business Acceptance: Initially, I struggled with convincing people to accept my brand. However, through constantly promoting our work, more people are starting to understand and value the importance and benefits of event hostessing.

3 interesting facts about myself…

  • I am naturally an introvert but people think otherwise.
  • I love driving and playing video games.
  • Learning about new things excites me a lot.

My fave skin, hair care product…

Shea butter

A message to SheaMoisture & She Leads Africa…

I am really excited and grateful to She Leads Africa and SheaMoisture for providing a platform where women can showcase their businesses and how they impact their communities.

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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The Tech and STEM pioneer of Botswana

The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects. 

Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with. 

Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at – or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space.

Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.

She founded the Dare to Dream Foundation (of which she is the President) in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business.

Connect with Kgomotso Phatsima and her business on social media.


Why I founded Dare to Dream…

When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one.

After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.

I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

On the ‘barrier’ to girls’ entry into STEM & traditionally ‘female/male-dominated’ subjects…

I will talk about myself and my own experience here.

When I told my parents that I want to fly and be a pilot, my mother said ‘In our time, a girl could never fly a plane. You cannot be a soldier!’

Sometimes it goes back to our upbringing and the culture. A girl must be domestic, and boys also have prescribed activities.

So we separate ourselves from engaging in these things. The same mindset goes on to say that ‘Some things are hard, and are only for men’, like piloting or engineering.

With some of our families, their backgrounds are what can hinder the involvement of girls in certain subjects and limit girls to certain careers.

But as the times and technologies change, and with other women and organizations such as ours showing that it’s possible, there is more of an acceptance that you can be and do anything you want.

Is Africa / Botswana in a good position to keep up with the world’s “breakneck’ speed?

I think so because the demographic dividend of the youth in Africa indicates that young people make up most of Africa at 60 percent.

I think that the whole of Africa is at a good advantage to participate in the technological changes that are taking place right now.

There are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. I also think that Batswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening.

We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be different from the businesses of today.

How Botswana (and Africa) can prepare for ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)’…

In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are taught in schools and they are part of the curriculum.

Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that coding will be taught in schools. We in Botswana are a little slower in catching on to these developments.

At Dare to Dream, we partnered with Airbus to sponsor 1,500 students across the country in rural places and trained them in robotics in order to prepare them for 4IR.

We need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – @KPhatsima Click To Tweet

It was also important that they know that there are careers in the aerospace industry that are STEM-related that they can take advantage of.

We are looking forward to partnering with the Ministry of Education, but there have been some delays, which I hope will be overcome in the future.

Dare to Dream’s most engaged stakeholders…so far…

We have engaged Airbus and also partnered with Botswana Innovation Hub, the University of Botswana and Botswana International University for Science and Technology – BIUST.

BIUST created an initiative to encourage young girls to get into STEM subjects because they realized that the number of girls applying for these subjects was low. They had called 100 girls from Central District schools to participate. 

We form partnerships with organizations with the same mandate as us. For example, Debswana is interested in the 4IR and getting young people engaged in it, so we have partnered with them and they have assisted us to roll out our programs.

We have also done work with Major Blue Air, who own planes. The girls get a chance to get onto the planes, and I fly the children.

It’s not just about STEM, it’s about exposing the girls to new experiences and igniting the passion within them. There are other organizations doing work in the same area, and we are looking forward to also having them on board.

There is something very powerful about collaboration.

We have also recently partnered with EcoNet, who have chosen me to lead the Youth Development Programme in coding and entrepreneurship.

What we are doing differently is that we are teaching the kids how to code and build websites, but also entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We have enrolled the first 500 participants and we are starting in July this year. 

The role Dare to Dream is playing in the conversation (and action!) towards Africa’s readiness for 4IR…

Even though we have trained 1 500 students, we realized that there is a gap with the teachers, and so we are preparing to train teachers in order to fill that gap.

After going around the country and doing work in 40 schools, I realized that the teachers themselves don’t know about 4IR, coding or robotics. Coding isn’t part of our curriculum at the moment; only a few schools have robotics kits, but they don’t know how to use them.

So, then we pulled in Debswana and other sponsors to train the teachers for a week at the University of Botswana. From there, the teachers will go back to their respective schools and train the students.

The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects. 

How young African women can be a part of The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)…

We want young people to solve African problems using technology – @KPhatsima Click To Tweet

Also, we want to teach them that they can look around for themselves, and identify where the problems are, and create devices and apps to overcome them, and make money out of them.

The fact that we are training teachers and students is a good step because we are pushing them towards appreciating the importance of 4IR and the power of technology in building businesses.


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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SheaMoisture Spotlight On Award-Winning Midwife: Tolu Adeleke-Aire – CEO ToluTheMidwife

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Tolu Adeleke-Aire

Tolu Adeleke-Aire is the CEO and founder of ToluTheMidwife.

She is an internationally trained, dual-qualified healthcare professional. Tolu is an accomplished senior midwife and nurse. Tolu has over ten years of clinical and management experience.

She completed an MSc in Healthcare Management, after which she worked with the reputable UCL (Department of Nutrition).

Tolu founded ToluTheMidwife to create a holistic experience for families. One that included preparing, supporting and empowering expectant parents as they transition to parenthood. She does this through evidence-based health education.

One parent at a time, Tolu is living her business mantra, “save a mother, save a child, save a community.”

To learn more about Tolu’s business and connect with her, visit her Website, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions, how did you start?

I started ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions (officially) in 2018. The aim is to prepare, support and empower expectant parents as they transition to parenthood through evidence-based health education.



Birthing a baby is a life-changing experience,and services rendered must offer a holistic approach. – @ToluTheMidwife Click To Tweet

At ToluTheMidwife, we offer Antenatal Classes, Postnatal Classes, exclusive “With Woman” services and Dads Antenatal Classes #DadsAntenatalNg.

Through effective health education, we can influence a positive change in health behaviors. This will drastically reduce Nigeria’s maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

We truly believe that informed and empowered parents will Save a mother, Save a baby and Save a Community.

What was your motivation?

While still working in England, I visited Nigeria often because I always wanted to move back.

So during one of these visits, I read an article about the atrocious maternal and neonatal mortality rates. I instantly became obsessed.

That article made me struggle to understand why so many women die just because they are having a baby. On further research, I noted many women lack basic evidence-based health education.

As a result, I created Tolu the Midwife to fill this gap, with the hopes of saving mothers, babies, and communities.

What makes your brand stand out?

I would say our dads antenatal classes, #DadsAntenatalNg. We are the first to incorporate antenatal classes for dads in Lagos and possibly Nigeria.

Society expects men to understand the beautiful yet challenging changes that happen to women during pregnancy. To support their partners in labor and in the postnatal period.

All that without being taught, educated, informed or even supported.
This is grossly unfair, drives men away and generational patterns are subconsciously repeated.

Our holistic approach covers the transition to parenthood right from conception for both men and women.

Another thing we do is offer our couples, round the clock online maternity support through our exclusive “With Woman” packages.

Couples feel very reassured knowing there is a midwife available to answer all their questions and alleviate any anxiety or refer them to the hospital (if required).

Can you tell us one 1 to 3 things you struggled with as a business owner and how you overcame them?

1. Time management: I had a demanding full-time job and was starting a business in Nigeria.  It was very challenging and I found no matter how hard I tried, the “naija factor” would disrupt my plans.

I am currently working part-time, as this gives me enough time to focus on building ToluTheMidwife and The Maternity Hub (Nigeria). 

I am also able to attend various courses which have been extremely helpful in building my brand.

2. Funding: I was unable to secure a personal space as I had planned and this threw me out of sync. I froze the plans I had for the classes for a while.

However, I am currently leasing spaces as required for my classes (pay-as-you-go) and this is working out really well.

How have you managed to stay above the noise in this industry?

As a brand new start-up, we are trying new and exclusive services such as dads antenatal classes and baby massage classes and evaluating the response we get from our clients.  

We also constantly monitor maternal needs and trends.

Do you have a personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

I didn’t consider the third party factor and it left me devastated at the start of my business. 

As an example, I write the handbooks for the classes and have them updated throughout the year.

I gave the first book to a printer and I didn’t receive them on time for the very first class. It made me upset because when I did receive them, they were not fit for purpose.

So when I updated the books again and sent them to the printer, I monitored every single step to avoid a repeat of what happened before.

It was a really helpful learning experience for me because as a startup, I can’t afford to have a stain on my reputation, so I take all the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself.

What impact have you made on your community since starting this business?

I would say being able to make pregnant couples feel informed and empowered about their pregnancy, birthing options, and postnatal care. Most of them report feeling less anxious and worried because they know we are one call away.

They also ask the midwives and doctors to complete all aspects of their antenatal check-up. The women have their personal antenatal handheld notes, so they keep track of the important numbers in pregnancy.

All in all, I have been able to support more parents and help them become more informed and prepared to welcome their children to the world.

What is your major goal for 2019, and what have you done so far to achieve it?

My major goal is to add new services to ToluTheMidwife. This is partially completed but we would love to regularise the frequency of the classes.

We are also working hard to open The Maternity Hub. A one-stop hub for maternity, with services from conception to 6 weeks postpartum.

Can you share with us three interesting facts about yourself?

I am a real foodie and funny too, so you’ll usually catch me chilling and laughing.

Another interesting thing about me is that I prefer a good movie and company, over living it up in the clubs and bars on a Friday night.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture?

Absolutely ecstatic. SLA is an awesome platform for amazing African women.

To have our services featured on your sites, sponsored by SheaMoisture is truly an honor.


You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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Young women should benefit from the growing impact investment market: Ujunwa Ojemeni

Ujunwa Ojemeni is a financing, business development and clean energy expert with experience in the areas of opportunity maturation, project financing and impact investing.

She has been in the energy sector for over five years now. She was in project development for a while before transiting to impact investment.

While in energy project development, she coordinated several gases and power development opportunities valued at approximately $300 Million.

In energy impact investing, her work has involved working with partners to catalyze funding to the clean energy sector such as the $100Million Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (OGEF) along with the African Development Bank and others, as well as driving investments in and managing investments in various clean energy companies.

She is currently working with project developers by structuring and arranging appropriate financing for their businesses, working with partners to deploy innovative energy solutions and providing long term strategic support to key energy enterprises.


Tell us about some of your projects

Earlier this year, I was selected as one of the 60 young African Clean Energy Leaders for the Open Power Africa 2019 program by Enel Foundation in collaboration with top African and Italian academic institutions.

I was one of the 16 finalists of the program who proceeded to complete the final module of the fellowship based on the quality of our capstone projects. I also emerged as a finalist in the IFC Sustainability Exchange Ideas Contest for Youth Innovations 2019.

To promote the participation of more women in the energy sector, I recently launched “The African Women in Energy Development Initiative – AWEDI Network”.

It is the pioneer African organization focused on women across the entire energy value chain to offer mentorship, career sponsorship (acceleration), capacity building, and leadership training for women at all stages of their energy careers and for female students at the secondary and tertiary levels.

I have always been passionate about helping SMEs to be successful and founded the “SME Transformation Project” through which I provide business advisory and funding to women-owned
SMEs in low-income communities.

I help them navigate through basic business challenges such as marketing and distributing channels, product line expansion, and most importantly, funding, which they have difficulties accessing from traditional financiers.

In addition, I am a mentor at the Cherie Blaire Foundation where I provide support to women entrepreneurs to help them grow as they build their businesses in different parts of the world.

Before all of these, I worked in the management consulting unit of KPMG where I focused on startup advisory and process improvement for such enterprises.

Share your experience with female inclusion in the energy sector?

In 2014, when I started my professional involvement in the energy sector, there were only 2 women on the team, and I was unclear how to navigate or how to find suitable mentors within or even outside the organization.

Although the numbers are gradually improving as more attention is being
given to the subject – more women are coming into the sector.

However, if you look at the management of most companies, it is mostly dominated by men. In fact, although female representation is improving globally, it remains considerately low.

In fortune 500 companies, only 6.6% of CEOs are female and 25.5% of board seats are held by women. This was one of my motivations to launch the African Women in Energy Development Initiative (AWEDI Network).

Being a woman in any sector let alone a male-dominated sector is generally tough and there is still significant room for improvement to make it more conducive for women to thrive.

As I always say, we are equal but different. Women are saddled with the responsibility of childbearing and a lot of times childbearing and home keeping.

Issues such as not employing pregnant women or newly married women are really sad and worrying. Organizations are typically worried about the gaps caused by maternity leave but the evidence is clear that a diverse workforce is good for the bottom line.

Furthermore, returning to work after maternity leave is not always smooth especially when you have been sidelined and not promoted along with your peers who may not even have performed as well as you.

In some other organizations, there is no provision for things such as nursing rooms for nursing mothers.

Another issue is the ‘flexible working myth’. Some organizations do not make any provisions for this, while others allow it in principle but in reality, it is difficult to utilize it as you might be considered unserious and penalized for it.

As a society and as corporate bodies we must institute
policies and implement the same to enable both men and women to perform optimally – paternity leave is still not taken seriously by many.

What were your major challenges in the industry and how can African women manage it?

One challenge is being undermined maybe because one is young. It is an interesting combination to be young as well as an African female committed to achieving big goals.

Nevertheless, I believe that being an expert in your craft is most important and clearly demonstrating this expertise by being visible. At meetings, there is always something you can contribute – most times we know more than we realize.

So I always encourage women to be bold and speak out more. In addition, we have to network sensibly; unfortunately, we usually do not have the luxury of time to attend all networking events due to other responsibilities but we should pick the most relevant events to attend.

We should also network horizontally and vertically i.e. with our peers and with those in higher cadres.

Another tricky challenge is finding the balance between being confident and people thinking you are self-promoting.

I have learned to ignore any naysayers and self-promote because if you don’t talk about what you have done and what you are doing and keep waiting for someone else to notice you, you will be waiting a long time.

So tell your managers what you have accomplished; share with your network your key accomplishments. We live in a social media age, so accept and embrace it.

Finally, it is easy for people to get threatened by your brilliance and even try to bring you down. But you must rise above that and focus on how you intend to bless the world.

Make your bosses look good but don’t dim your light because others are mediocre. Shine, shine, shine!

How can young businesswomen position themselves in order to benefit impact investment?

Simply put, impact investments are investments that are made with the intention to cause positive, measurable, economic, social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

The major criteria generally agreed for an investment to qualify as impact investing is that it is intentional i.e. it has a positive impact on social or environmental impact, it is profit-oriented i.e. a clear expected return and although metrics are still being debated, that the impact is measurable.

There is a growing impact investment market globally and particularly focused on developing countries to provide capital to address the world’s most pressing challenges in sectors such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, healthcare, education and many more.

Young women can definitely benefit from this growing market either as impact investors themselves or by adequately positioning their enterprises to benefit from those funds.

The key is ensuring that the enterprise meets the criteria mentioned above, as investors are clearly keen on supporting such innovative enterprises.

A quick way to assess how impactful an enterprise is could be assessing its impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and considering broader metrics such as how many jobs are created through the enterprise.

Therefore when wondering if your enterprise would be attractive to impact investors, ensure it has economic, social and/or environmental impact accompanied by a financial return. So, impact investments are regarded by some as “doing well by doing good”.

Are there any career opportunities in energy and financial inclusion for women you can share with us?

There are numerous career opportunities in this sector depending on one’s interests, skills, readiness to take on these opportunities amongst others.

On the AWEDI Network platform, we share numerous opportunities daily and weekly. The real decision is for women to decide that they are qualified to take on these roles, apply for them, get the skills required and soar.

The statistics are that women mostly only apply for opportunities when they meet 100% of the hiring criteria while their male peers apply when they meet 60%. So I always encourage women to look beyond their shortcomings and believe in themselves.

In the energy sector whatever your interests are, it could be in legal, governance, finance, investments, technical, etc. there are opportunities for everyone.

Finally, personal development is crucial – I am a proponent for acquiring crucial skills for my next level it could be leadership skills or a new segment of the sector I believe is the future.

Before I joined the clean energy sector, I was in the gas and power sector. This had no form of renewable energy solutions. Over the years even before I switched, I started reading extensively on the future of energy, attending seminars and training to prepare myself for my next steps.

To improve my finance skills I did various financial modeling and investment courses some more structured while others at my pace – @UjunwaOjemeni Click To Tweet

To improve my finance skills I did various financial modeling and investment courses some more structured while others at my pace.

So, I suggest women identify where they want to go and acquire the skills needed for their next level and put themselves out there when the opportunity arises or better still seek out suitable opportunities and read widely.

One thing I learned a few years ago was about ‘pain letters’ from Liz Ryan – she is the founder of Human Workplace and is very vocal on LinkedIn. She proposes that the job seekers identify the pain they are solving for their hiring manager, and write directly to them explaining how they will solve the key challenges.

That is definitely the next level of being proactive and has yielded fruits for many.

What is next for you?

I am currently working on a broader program to better support green enterprises – super excited about this project and the impact these businesses will have in achieving the SDGs.

I will definitely share more details with your network soon.


How are you improving your spending habits this month? Click here to join the SLA #SecureTheBag challenge.

Catherine Lesetedi: Botswana’s Boss Woman

Botswana

Catherine Lesetedi is a graduate of Statistics from the University of Botswana. She has built a career in the insurance industry since she joined it in 1992. Currently, Catherine is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL).

She has built her career from scratch, and over the years, she has been adamant that adopting a flexible style of leadership is beneficial for leading an organization and getting the best out of her team.

Her career so far…

Looking at Lesetedi’s career, nothing about her story and her leadership principles and philosophies are ‘textbook’. Her style of leadership is pliable and acrobatic. It lends itself to whatever situation she and her team are in.

She’s extremely driven, open and open-minded, preferring to lead from behind, pushing her team forward, encouraging their gifts and honoring their intellect, allowing them to innovate, to grow and give to the business what she cannot.

Catherine maximizes on their strengths and makes sure that wherever there are gaps, there are people who are passionate, willing and able to execute and fill them.

Her journey there…

There is nothing predictable about Catherine Lesetedi. Even her choice of Statistics as a field to study at the University of Botswana (UB) was a bit of a wild card, even for her.

She describes it saying, “when we were making choices about what to study at varsity, we didn’t really know much about careers, to be honest with you, I didn’t know anything about Statistics until I got to the Department of Student Placement at the Ministry of Education.”

“I was late; my father and I had run out of fuel. By the time we arrived, I was out of breath, and I had forgotten my initial course choices. My brother, who I really admired, had studied Public Administration and Political Science, and that’s what I wanted.”

“They said that that weird combination didn’t exist, and told me that I was going to do Statistics and Demography.”


“If you think something is difficult, it becomes really difficult. If you think you can do it, sometimes you even surprise yourself.”
– Catherine Lesetedi,
CEO, BIHL Group

Her life experiences…

She studied Statistics at the University of Botswana, and even though her journey into that field was incidental, once there, she made the best of her situation, excelled and gleaned many things that she took forward with her into the rest of her life.

Certain experiences and her mindset set the stage for her early career and propelled her forward.

According to her, “in terms of decision-making, logical thinking, the confidence, and aptitude to learn; the program grounded me.”

“I may not use the formulas every day, but there are skills that I gained that I apply on a daily basis, even if I don’t recognize that ‘this is Statistics.”

The mathematical element empowered her to be able to engage with budgets and numbers, and not shy away from that aspect of whichever job she did.

Her philosophies for life…

All of the disciplines in the world are interrelated, so having a good understanding of what is going on across the board is beneficial for one; especially if a young woman wants to build herself up and build her career.

This is something she practices herself because, throughout the course of her career, she has gradually improved upon her leadership skills, attending leadership courses and taking on the responsibility of self-improvement.

Doing this has encouraged her to take a deeper look at herself; what drives her and pushes her beyond her own limitations. This outlook has put her in good stead as a leader, as someone who encourages others, ensuring that they are able to get the best out of what they need to do.

As a mentor, both personally and professionally, the story that she tells, the
example that she sets, is one of “show up and do your best.”

Ms. Lesetedi is big on recognizing talent and putting it to good use within the BIHL Group. These are some of the elements that make her up as a woman, as a leader, and these are some of the things that she has imparted to her mentees.


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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Think, plan and intentionally work towards your career goals: Jane Egerton-Idehen

Jane Egerton-Idehen is the founder of womenncareers. A platform that supports women globally in growing their careers through career advice, practical tips, tools and resources from different female executives

She is an accomplished Executive of thriving divisions within two Fortune 500 firms, as well as an advisor, spokesperson, and board member of nonprofit organizations.

Jane Egerton-Idehen is also an expert in the Telecommunication industry with over seventeen years of experience. She is currently the country manager Nigeria for an international satellite company, Avanti communications limited.

Recently she was celebrated as one of Nigeria’s “50 Leading Ladies in Corporate Nigeria” by Leading Ladies Africa. She has an MBA from the University of Warwick and an Executive Education from Havard Business School.

In this article, SLA contributor Anwuli speaks to Jane Egerton-Idehen as she talks about her impact on young women as she’s helping them in their career growth.


“Your career is a marathon and not a race so don’t beat yourself up” – @nk_amadi Click To Tweet

Since founding Women and Careers, what unique challenges have you helped women tackle in their growing careers?

Since starting Women and Careers, we have seen a lot of awareness about issues facing women as they grow their career.

Most women in their mid-careers, are seeking skills and a support system to help them grow their careers while they manage their home and family. While the single ladies are seeking to combine a career with building family relations and obligations.

I have noticed that most women in the early part of their career need guidance and some form of mentoring to guide them as they grow. To consciously invest in developing themselves and maneuvering the dynamics of the office place.

These challenges form a wide spectrum from like microaggression at work to lacking sponsorships for leadership roles.

We also have the impact of the patriarch in the workplace and society at large. There are also common ones like work-life balance.

I recognize that we need to talk more about these issues, share our stories and support each other through the journey

What level of progress has Women and Careers achieved in reaching out to women globally?

Since officially starting in 2017, Women and career has taken our passion to a larger audience. Our passion is to support women to grow their careers and encourage young girls to start one.

We have touched a lot of lives through our events and activities. We also celebrate a lot of women who are successfully paving a way in their fields no matter how unpopular those sectors or industries are.

WomenNcareers has worked with outside organizations to discuss these challenges women are facing bringing awareness to them and making sure relevant stakeholders are involved to support in addressing these issues.

We have co-sponsored events like TEDXAjegunle women, Sozo Networks Before I Turn 18 program for teenagers. To reach out to women and young girls in underserved areas.

We have just finished a mentoring program for young female undergraduates at the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa Ghana.

Our hope is that this can inspire and motivate a lot of women to work their paths as well.

What kind of support would women starting their careers in STEM fields need from professionals in the field?

Firstly Organizations need to be more deliberate about the pipeline problem especially in STEM fields.

Data shows that women are still underrepresented at the entry levels. This requires that companies relook at their hiring process.

A study by Women Matter states that;

Men are often hired and promoted based on their potential, while women are often hired and promoted based on their track record. This may be particularly acute for women at the start of their careers when their track records are relatively short.

Secondly, we noticed a lot of leakages when it comes to female talent in the STEM fields. Women starting their careers in the industry need a lot of support from the organizations they work to ensure they grow their careers in the field.

Quite a lot of them leave the field when they start getting married and probably having kids. One of the main challenges is managing their young family with the continuously demanding professional life.

Organizations can consider flexible working hours. They can consider maternity and post-maternity policies that are supportive of such women.

I would also recommend women in this phase seek a lot of support from loved ones and seek mentors that can guide them to navigate this phase.

Metaphorically I would relate the discussion about Women in STEM fields to what Charles Blow, an American Journalist for the New York Times, once said;

It requires that you fight on two fronts; trying to reduce the size of the hill and climbing the hill – Jane Egerton-Idehen

This is how I have always felt about women who try to grow their careers in the STEM fields.

I have come to acknowledge that it is a constant battle to have this. With all the challenges, they must face, it feels like climbing a hill.

It needs to be recognized that we ( Policymakers, Corporate organizations, etc) need to reduce the hill for women who in the past century have started to branch into these fields where the rules of engagement were created with male folks in mind.

What lessons can other women take from your journey when they feel discouraged?

I would say “your career is a marathon and not a race so don’t beat yourself up”. Life will throw you curveballs, There will be highs and lows. There will be upward movement and sometimes lateral career moves. Learn to keep pushing forward no matter what.

Invest in your personal development, as you grow and become better your confidence increases, you become more valuable to your organization or industry. – @nk_amadi Click To Tweet

Be in the driver seat when it comes to your career. Most times we look for a boss, organization, etc to cart our career path.

We should learn to intentionally think, plan and work towards our career goals.

How do you effectively combine work, pursuing your passion and the home front?

Whatever we feed or spend time in, grows. One of the secrets is daring to be bad at somethings and not feeling guilty about it.

Decide what is of priority to you. Focus your time on things that are of priority. That for me is key.

Also learn to seek support, delegate or outsource activities that are less important or impactful. This will free up time for family, work and your passion.


Missed our Facebook Live on August 22nd on how to drive social change through your business/career? Click here to watch here.

SheaMoisture Spotlight on Finance Queen: Anie Ufia – founder of Kolo Lagos

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Anie Ufia

22-year old Ufia Aniebietabasi is the CEO and founder of Kolo Lagos. She is a Mass Communication graduate from the University of Lagos.

After an experience where she was shocked to find out that she had no savings of her own in a bank or anywhere else, Anie made up her mind to create a system that will make savings fun and a priority for her. 

Seeing the immediate results it had on her finances, she was determined to help other young people like herself, take control of their finances.

You are sure to either catch Anie preaching the gospel of financial freedom or on the lookout for opportunities with which she can drive social change.

Connect with Anie and her business here Website, Instagram, Twitter


Tell us about Kolo Lagos.

Kolo Lagos is a proudly Nigerian brand that is passionate about bringing back the saving culture in a unique way.

We aim to achieve this by encouraging people to save money in a piggy bank, popularly called “Kolo” in Nigeria.

Our kolos are made from quality tested wood and specially handcrafted with love in Nigeria to help people curb overspending, grow a saving habit and stay disciplined while at it. 

How did you turn this habit into a business?

I started Kolo Lagos during my final year at the University. I suddenly realized that I had zero savings, not in the bank or even in a piggy bank.

This made me buy a piggy bank for myself and discipline myself to save money. I bought one from a carpenter that was introduced to me by a friend.

 Since it worked for me, I told my friends about it and everyone wanted a piggy bank so they could save money as well. 

That was how the journey began!

Having a niche business, how do you make your brand stand out?

At Kolo Lagos, our kolos are crafted and designed to promote the rich and beautiful culture in Nigeria and Africa. They have also added an innovative touch to an old approach of saving money which was used since the days of our forefathers.

The reusability of our Kolos has also added a modern twist to it and is the ‘WOW’ factor that attracts our customers

Can you share with us 3 things you struggled with at the start of your business, and how you overcame them?

The major challenge I struggled with at the start of my business was building brand loyalty. It was a new business and with the prevalence of online fraud, most people are scared to make a purchase from an online store.

However, as the business grew, people began to trust us enough to refer us to friends and relatives. I have now moved from selling kolos to just friends and family but to people who discover us via the internet.

Another big challenge I struggled with was finding artisans who knew their onions, could deliver neatly done jobs, and deliver them on time.

I am glad that I have overcome that challenge since I have a particular one I now work with…

Tell us about a personal experience that translated to a  business lesson for you.

My first business lesson was before I even began my business. I had given a fashion designer a fabric and style to make an outfit for me.

I decided to come to get it at the allotted time the tailor gave me, but despite the sufficient time I gave, my dress wasn’t ready.

It was quite annoying and frustrating, to say the least. So I took that lesson with me to Kolo Lagos when I started it.

Working with artisans means that I constantly have to follow up, make calls and even go there physically if need be, just to ensure that everything is done well and on time. That experience stayed with me and has been a major lesson that has helped my business.

What impact have you made in your community since starting your business?

Since starting my business, I have impacted my community by speaking at workshops and seminars to both young and old people about money, and why it’s important to maintain a healthy saving lifestyle.

What is your 2019 goal, and what have you done so far to achieve it?

My goal for 2019 is to get more local distributors within Nigeria and at least one international distributor in order to achieve the goal of selling 2,000 kolos this year.

I am currently speaking with someone who is interested in becoming an international distributor.

Share with us 3 fun facts about yourself

  1. I love food. Food loves me.
  2. Food makes me happy.
  3. I know how to play drums.

What’s your fave skin care routine?

My skin care routine is done at night when I get to nicely cleanse my skin with my organic skin products, and prep for the night before going to bed.

How do you feel about promoting your brand on She Leads Africa, courtesy of SheaMoisture?

To be totally honest, I am still in utter shock even as I type this.

I remember when I applied for it and a part of me wasn’t sure if my business would be selected, but I applied anyway.

I am deeply and sincerely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you so much, Shea Moisture. You ROCK!

Describe your business with one word…

The word is UNIQUE.

Missed our first Shea Moisture Spotlight? Click here.

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia


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Five African Women in the Creative Industries You Should be Following On Instagram

The modern African woman is not just a doctor, lawyer or UN project manager. She is in true millennial style – an artist at heart, who crave side hustles that doubles as her creative outlets.

More than ever, African women on the continent and of the diaspora are slaying roles in writing, art direction, creative marketing, architecture, and design.

If you’re looking for jobs at agencies who work on projects that reflect your home or want to stay posted on artistic journeys in the continent’s creative hubs, keep reading this article.

Here are five women in the creative industries you should know about, contact and work with! Click To Tweet

Asiyami Gold

Asiyami Gold is one of the continent’s most notable Instagram influencer’s who is consistently revered in hundreds of comments for being authentic and inimitable in her storytelling as well as her work.

Her personal storytelling does not hold an essentialist, romantic nor exotic gaze of the continent.

Rather, everything she does, from her presets to her consulting, shows the continent the way it is— a mix of technological innovations and idiosyncratic socio-economies, with a shared political history.

Gold is the Founder and CEO of the creative agency A Gold Studio and has worked with clients like Furla, Pantene, HERE map and Christian Cody.

Amy Sall

Amy Sall is the founder of digital magazine SUNU:  forthcoming print and digital publication.

 Even before the launch of the Journal, Sall’s tens of thousands of Instagram followers have known her best for making pre-colonial and historic media (film, TV, photography, interviews, reports etc) from the continent accessible by sharing images and stories that scream “for us, by us and of us”—foreshadowing the meaning of “sunu”, the Wolof word for “our”. 

Chidera Eggerue AKA @theslumflower

Chidera or @theslumflower is the award-winning author of the book What a Time to be Alone, a speaker, and an all round epicentre for inspiration, tough love and ultimately self-love.

A few months ago, a friend of mine suggested that I follow @theslumflower on Instagram, and my life has never been the same since!

Sis is all about being unapologetically self-loving, creative, independent and successful.

If you want to write, design or create but you’re feeling like as an African woman, there are certain worries that you work through alone, then following @theslumflower will give you enough inspiration to turn your #hotgirlsummer into a #hotgirlyear.

Mamy Tall

Mamy Tall is a Senegalese powerhouse, an architect, a photographer, and art director whose work has been featured on Livingly and Le Petit Journal

In December 2018, Tall’s art direction for the music video of Nix’s Highlander, won Video of the Year at the Galsen Hip Hop Awards.

Mamy Tall’s instagram content is a mix of architectural design and inspiration, art direction, photography, fashion, a non-replicable tourist eye and all round African excellence. 

Nadia Marie Sasso

Nadia Marie Sassois an unconventional digital storyteller from Sierra Leone based in Los Angeles.

She often combines critical writing and research with digital media in film, music, and fashion. Named among Katie Couric’s “Next Generation of Female Leaders”.

Sasso’s recent film Am I: Too African to be American or Too American to be African? has been featured on media platforms, such as Centric, Jet, The Huffington Post, Blavity, The ColorLines, OkayAfrica, Black Enterprise, and AfroPunk— and recognized by film festivals nationally and internationally.

Sasso’s journey is one of triumph— one quick scroll through her IG, and you’re bound to overcome any mood you’re in and want to slay your start-up goals.


Missed our Facebook Live on August 22nd on how to drive social change through your business/ Career? Click here to watch.

FACEBOOK LIVE WITH JUDITH OWIGAR: HOW I BUILT MY BUSINESS TO DRIVE SOCIAL CHANGE (AUG 22)

What impact does your business have in your community?

It’s no news that companies take Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously. It’s like a magic door that opens up more opportunities and this is why. The world is ever-changing and businesses are looking for more ways to connect with their customers.

As a BOSS Lady, beyond making the $$$, you need to look at the bigger picture on how you can create a positive change in your community.

Listen To Me Hello GIF by Swing Left

Firstly, when your business is seen making an impact, it shows that you have an interest in social issues which will help raise your company profile, attract new customers and/or identify new opportunities.

Ain’t that the goal?

Get your business to impact your community and make a difference with these tips from @owigarj, founder of JuaKali Workforce on August 22nd at 12PM WAT! Click here for more: bit.ly/judithowigar Click To Tweet

Remember, being socially responsible is good for the bottom line.

If you want to learn how to create, craft and manage social change strategies, join us on Thursday, August 22nd, for a Facebook Live with Judith Owigar, founder of JuaKali Workforce, who’ll be dishing out tips to help your business aim for change.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to discover what social issues are most relevant to you and your community.
  • 5 different ways your business can create a positive social change while you make profit.
  • Finding purpose and grit in social projects.
  • Impact vs Sustainability.

Facebook LIVE details:

Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Time: 12PM Lagos // 1PM Joburg// 2PM Nairobi

Watch Facebook Live with Judith:

Facebook Live with Judith Owigar – How I built my business to drive social change

She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Judith Owigar, founder of @JukailaWorkforce, shares her experience on how she built a business that is impacting communities in Kenya. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting bit.ly/WelcomeToSLA

Posted by She Leads Africa on Thursday, August 22, 2019

About Judith

Judith Owigar is passionate about initiatives involving youth, women and all things technology. With a Masters in Applied Computing from the University of Nairobi, she’s the founder JuaKali Workforce, an online micro-jobs platform that connects young people to short term jobs in Kenya’s informal sector.

In 2015, Judith shared a panel with President Barack Obama of the U. S. and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She is a 2015 East African Acumen Fellow and a 2014 international Focus fellow.

She has been named as one of the Top 40 under 40 women by the Business Daily newspaper in Kenya and has been recognized with the Anita Borg Change Agent Award by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.